I'm just going to begin by saying that I do not consider myself a religious person. I was raised Catholic, but as I grew older I began to stray away from religion and began to live my life without associating with a certain religion. That being said, in early 2016, a close friend of mine told me about a mission trip that a missionary at our school was leading in St. Louis.
St. Louis is a beautiful city, and definitely a city I had never dreamed of being able to visit, so when this opportunity presented itself, I wanted to jump right in. The only problem was that it was a mission trip. I love volunteering and helping others but the idea of going on a mission trip when I wasn't completely sure on my religion was a bit scary. After having multiple conversations with my parents, friends, and a couple of missionaries, I decided that going to St. Louis was a good way to learn more about myself.
Signing up was the easy part, but then came the actual trip. We loaded the cars on a Friday afternoon and I remember thinking, "do I really want to do this?" I remember I had so many doubts and anxiety about this trip and there were multiple times I wanted to back out. It's been about seven months since the trip and I am so utterly happy that I decided to escape my doubts and go on this trip.
We got to help multiple people while exploring a beautiful city. On our first day in St. Louis we got to spend most of the evening planning the week and praying over how the week would go. On the second day, we visited a nursing home run by the Sisters of the Poor. There, we watched and helped the elderly run a play, and later got to join them for adoration. The next day, we worked with a company called, Worth Industries, that employed many adults with disabilities. We got to interact with many of them and help them complete their tasks. These people were wonderful and sweet, and showed me an entirely different way of looking at the world.
We got to do multiple things throughout the week and the more time I spent in St. Louis, the less I wanted to come home to Colorado. Something that stood out to me was that we attended mass and adoration everyday. This was a very interesting experience for me because I had never attended church this often, especially in a single week. I have to admit that it was hard for me at first because I did not know what I was doing. As the week progressed, I had wonderful people who helped me learn more about God and more about my beliefs.
If there is one thing I learned from this trip is to take the time out of your life to help someone else. There are many people who need your help, or even a few kind words to brighten their days. No matter what religion you are, or what your beliefs are, taking a risk and doing something you normally wouldn't do can turn out to be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life.
I met people that I never want to forget, and strengthened friendships with others while learning more about myself. I had plenty of doubts when going on this mission trip, but the more I look back on it, the more I realize how grateful I am for being given this opportunity.